Will McHenry County help bridge financial gap on Longmeadow? Officials aren’t sure.

Officials said discussions on contributing could happen sooner rather than later

Construction on Longmeadow Parkway has been completed from Randall Road to the west to just east of the Fox River. One small section remains, but delays with materials and lead-tainted soil are pushing the expected completion date back to 2023.

While Kane County hopes its neighbors will help foot the bill for its Longmeadow Parkway project and keep it from becoming a tollway, some officials in McHenry County are hesitant about what’s being asked.

Kane County officials have asked neighboring McHenry and Cook counties to each front $1 million for the project, which spans more than 5 miles in the northern part of Kane County, and passes through Algonquin, Carpentersville and Barrington Hills.

Kane County Board Chair Corinne Pierog recently told County Board members she believes a combination of state money, COVID-19 recovery money and those contributions will pay off the bond the county issued to pay for Longmeadow’s construction, the Daily Herald reported.

McHenry County Board member Michael Skala, R-Huntley, who heads the county board’s finance committee, said he isn’t sure where McHenry County would find that money.

“We’d have to figure out where to get it,” Skala said. “It’s a tough sell, especially when you have 18 board members.”

McHenry County Board Chair Mike Buehler, R-Crystal Lake, said Monday it wouldn’t be unprecedented for the county to contribute to projects outside of its boundary, citing the nearly $46 million Randall Road construction project from a few years ago.

However, if the contribution isn’t enough to take a toll off the table, Buehler said he would be more hesitant to contribute. He noted some estimates show McHenry County residents would contribute about $1 million a year in tolls to the parkway.

“If we’re looking at a scenario where a toll would be eliminated, I think that would be a pretty compelling argument,” Buehler said.

We’d have to figure out where to get it. It’s a tough sell, especially when you have 18 board members.

—  McHenry County Board member Mike Skala on contributing to Kane County's Longmeadow Parkway project

Skala said whatever the decision, he wants discussions on it to happen sooner than later, particularly if this is slated to go in next year’s budget.

“I get frustrated when expenses get sprung on us,” Skala said.

At this point, there haven’t been any concrete details hammered out and only minimal discussion, Buehler said. McHenry County could discuss the project further at an upcoming transportation committee meeting.